BACKGROUND: A combination of chlorhexidine gluconate and alcohol (CHG-alcohol) is recommended for surgical skin preparation to prevent surgical site infection (SSI). Although more than 1 per cent CHG-alcohol is recommended to prevent catheter-related bloodstream infections, there is no consensus regarding the concentration of the CHG compound for the prevention of SSI. METHODS: A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed. Four electronic databases were searched on 5 November 2020. SSI rates were compared between CHG-alcohol and povidone-iodine (PVP-I) according to the concentration of CHG (0.5 per cent, 2.0 per cent, 2.5 per cent, and 4.0 per cent). RESULTS: In total, 106 of 2716 screened articles were retrieved for full-text review. The risk ratios (RRs) of SSI for 0.5 per cent (6 studies) and 2.0 per cent (4 studies) CHG-alcohol were significantly lower than those for PVP-I (RR = 0.71, 95 per cent confidence interval (c.i.) 0.52 to 0.97; RR = 0.52, 95 per cent c.i 0.31 to 0.86 respectively); however, no significant difference was observed in the compounds with a CHG concentration of more than 2.0 per cent. CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis is the first study that clarifies the usefulness of an alcohol-based CHG solution with a 0.5 per cent or higher CHG concentration for surgical skin preparation to prevent SSI.
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